SANDY — Rowland Hall left no doubt who was Utah’s best 2A girls soccer team Saturday.
On a near-perfect afternoon at Rio Tinto Stadium, Lizzie Carlin scored three goals and the Winged Lions earned their second straight state crown with a convincing 7-0 victory over their nemesis, Waterford.
Rowland Hall finished the season with a 15-1 record — with its only loss coming Sept. 6 at Waterford — and allowed just six goals. The two 2A North teams have met each other in each of the last three 2A state title games, tied for the region crown this season and then rolled to two straight comfortable wins in the last week during the state tournament.
A closer match was expected, but Rowland Hall scored three times in the first 15 minutes. That gave the Winged Lions the biggest lead they’ve had over their rival in the last three seasons, and both teams looked like they didn’t know how to react.
“It was really amazing,” said Carlin, a freshman who finished among the team’s top scorers. “Our fast start really set the mood for us. Waterford has given us such good competition. It helped us prepare for this.”
Carlin, Summer Connery, Anna Fukushima, Kaitlyn Bates and Aislinn Mitcham provided the offense for Rowland Hall all season, and they never let up. Connery made it 4-0 just before halftime, and the Winged Lions took advantage of at least five more good shots in the first few minutes after the teams returned to the field.
Rowland Hall coach Bobby Kennedy said he was surprised by the large margin, after a 2-1 defeat and 3-2 victory over the Ravens earlier this season. He added that this year’s team, which also won 2A’s academic achievement award, was something special.
“We put them on their heels,” Kennedy said. “We have a system, and they (the players) believe in it. We blend in together, and, every now and then, the kids put together something like this.”
Video replay of the game
Waterford finished with a 14-3 record. The Ravens came in averaging almost six goals per game, and came close a couple of times against Rowland Hall goalkeeper Sophie Stinnett. However, Stinnett’s efforts to knock shots away in the second half drew loud applause from her teammates and the crowd, and that helped Rowland Hall keep the momentum — and added to the Ravens’ frustration.
“They’re a good team, and there was a lot of talent on that field out there today,” said Waterford coach Tim Dolbin. “I could see the potential for them to pull away. Everything just worked well for them.”